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The Sentinel

An Eye on the Penn State Administration

‘Hurley Will Decide:’ The Student Facilities Fee Is Inevitable

The Daily Collegian today confirms what we at Safeguard Old State have been saying for many months now. Neither the Student Activity Fee (SAF) nor student fees in general are controlled by independent, elected, accountable students. Rather, the administration controls and regulates the fee solely:

Hurley To Decide On Fee This Week (TDC) — Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Gail Hurley said she will decide this week whether to recommend a $200-per-year facilities addition to the student activity fee.

Hurley announced her time frame at a meeting Friday, held to outline concrete plans for the fee. At the meeting, students and administrators hadn’t reached a decision on the fee, which would finance renovation and construction of facilities outside classroom, library and laboratory space. Hurley said she wanted to address University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA) President Gavin Keirans’ concerns on how the fee would be used.

But Keirans (sophomore-business administration) and other UPUA representatives said they were more concerned about how students would be involved. “What kind of say do we have if they already have a plan in place?” Keirans said after the meeting. “To me, it’s very alarming to see that the first three years are already allocated.”

[Rich] Kaluza (assistant controller in the Office of Corporate Controller) said he understands students’ reservations.

“We certainly have one of the highest tuition rates,” he said. “Any student body government is going to balk at any increased fees, but our viewpoint is that we want to enhance the student body experience.”

As we’ve been documenting prodigiously here at Safeguard Old State over the past weeks and months, the saga over the new $200 per year tax for “student facilities” is likely to be pushed through and imposed despite strident student opposition. All because the ultimate power rests with two administrators: first, the Vice President for Student Affairs, and ultimately President Graham Spanier.

The administration under Vice President Hurley and President Spanier boldly goes where few in the nation have publicly gone before, asserting sole control and final decision-making power over student fees. The “Student Facilities Fee” is inevitable for one reason: no matter how hard and how long student leaders fight against and protest this new tax, the administration holds all the cards and pulls all the levers.

By pushing through her own will over the will of the democratically elected student representatives in the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), Vice President Hurley doesn’t just snub the idea of shared governance and shared decision-making, but will further destabilize and marginalize student leaders by proving that the bureaucratic, anti-student system built by the administration doesn’t even offer them the appearance of power or control in decisions directly affecting students, in this case, student fees.

The idea and implementation of this “Student Facilities Fee” is most certainly not shared governance in action, despite the fact that the Penn State Trustees Standing Orders promise Penn Staters such a student-centered climate. Shared governance, meaning real decision making power (not just advisory input) on the issues facing our University, is meant to be guaranteed through Standing Order IX.

We at Safeguard Old State are wholly disappointed with what we expect will be a rubber stamp on the plan the administration had from Day 1: tax the students an extra $200 per year to build more facilities that are of questionable use, thanks to a report that has faulty numbers and little overall worth.

Finally, I’d like to address the comments at the end of The Daily Collegian article by Rich Kaluza. He shamelessly downplays this new tax by saying we have “one of the highest” tuition rates at Penn State. No — Penn Staters pay more tuition for a public education than any other students in America. Finally, more buildings and more taxes are most certainly not what “enhance the student body experience.”

As we’ve pointed out before at Safeguard Old State, if Gail Hurley foists this fee upon the student body despite the adament protests of Penn State Student Body President Gavin Keirans over its cost and control, Penn State will also be one of the costliest in student fees among its Big Ten peers.

To be competitive, must we be the costliest in both tuition and fees?

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They just don’t get it, do they? they just don’t get it. I don’t understand how we can have people who are so braindead running this school. What part of “WE DON”T WANT THE FACILITIES FEE” don’t Gail Hurley and Graham Spanier get?

Also, for the record, is it me or is being in charge of student affairs doing something to Gail Hurley? I seem to remember her being quite reasonable and eager to do good for the students back when this first started. It seems she has changed now, morphing into some hidesouly disfigured creature who gains satisfaction in sucking the students blood and money away and generally fostering the tyrannical atmosphere that Old Main seems to want.

Our forefathers one day went to war over taxation without representation. The student facilities fee, if passed, IS Taxation with no representation (because the representative in student affairs has been corrupted.) Therefore, it is time for a war with our dear Alma Mater. And the only way to fight is to hit them where it hurts, their wallet. We can do that by convincing Alumni to withhold donations and protest this, because we all know that Penn State cares ten times more for its deep pocketed alums than for its students.

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